That headline begins yet another
diatribe analysis by a Huffpost contributor, Brandan Robertson, whose bio is Cultural Commentator, Activist, Pastor, and Author of “Our Witness: The Unheard Stories of LGBT+ Christians”. In the interest of full disclosure, I am somewhat prejudiced against Huffpost, and LGBT activists. However, he says he’s a Christian in good standing with Jesus Christ, so I will restrict myself to presenting his own words, as well as my opinion about what is left out and what is inaccurate. My commentary is in bold. So are his headlines.
He says: “One of the most transformative periods in my faith was when I took time to re-read the Gospels of the New Testament and get reacquainted with Jesus’ himself, in his own words. I have compiled a short list of 4 clear teachings of Jesus that most of us who exist within Evangelicalism have either never heard, refuse to acknowledge, or believe the exact opposite of.” He says “most of us” to create some kind of solidarity, while simultaneously criticizing the majority of believers as either being ignorant of Jesus’ words, or deliberately opposing them. How does he know what percentage of evangelicals heed or fail to heed Jesus’ words? As for “clear teachings”, it remains to be seen to whom they are clear and how he applies them.
1. Jesus, not the Bible, is God’s living and active Word that brings life. “You don’t have His word living in you, because you don’t believe the One He sent. You study the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.”– John 5:39-40 HCSB. “The problem is that a faith that is rooted in the Scripture alone is not sustainable. It will dry up and wither on the vine. While the Bible is an important and authoritative guide for Christian faith and practice, it isn’t the foundation or center of our faith- Jesus is. But in order to maintain a vibrant and living faith, we must not make the Bible our substitute for communion with the living Word of God.” Okay, I agree that Jesus Christ is the living and active Word, and that a faith rooted in scripture instead of Christ will wither. But is he implying that the Bible is not also the word of God? Let’s consider whom Jesus was addressing in his quoted passage. In the passages that preceded his quotes, Jesus was speaking to “the Jews”, specifically Pharisees who were disputing with him for breaking the sabbath by healing a man who was paralyzed. If Robertson is trying to use that quote to speak to fellow believers, it’s an odd choice of example.
2. The only way to enter the Kingdom of Heaven is through DOING the will of God. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 ESV. “An expert in the law stood up to test Him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?””What is written in the law?” He asked him. “How do you read it?” He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” You’ve answered correctly,” He told him. “Do this and you will live.”– Luke 10: 25-28 HCSB. “We are saved by faith alone, apart from works!” “This is a very popular Protestant catch phrase. The doctrine of sola fide (faith alone) was developed by the Reformers in response to the Roman Catholic Churches corrupted teachings….” This is misleading. Jesus’ brother James explains: So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. – James 2:17-18. “Sola fide” does mean that works are irrelevant. Salvation IS by faith alone, “so that none may boast”, but the changed heart that answers the call of Jesus Christ includes the desire to mimic Jesus. A truly saved person WILL want to do the will of God. Once again, we have to consider whom Jesus was addressing. He was addressing a Jewish lawyer who was testing Him. Was the lawyer sincerely asking, or trying to trip Jesus up? When Jesus said, “do this and you will live”, was He really saying you will be saved if you follow those two commandments? Doubtful, since Jesus knew his heart was not right….or he wouldn’t have been testing Him.
3. Condemnation isn’t Jesus’ style.“I have not come to condemn the world, but to save it.” John 3:17 ESV. “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”– John 8:11 ESV. “Many modern day Evangelical preachers spend a lot of time talking about the kinds of people that God is opposed to and who he condemns.” Yeah, they do, and often they aren’t even right, and some are committing the same sins. However, Jesus had plenty of words of condemnation, though not for repentant sinners. He called the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs, full of dead men’s bones” and “hypocrites” and “blind guides.” He chased the money changers out of the Temple with a whip of cords He made, calling them robbers and such. It is not accurate to say “condemnation isn’t Jesus’ style.” The parable of the unrepentant Pharisee vs. the sinner throwing himself on God’s mercy is more appropriate. So Brandan, are YOU repentant?
4. You’re supposed to sacrifice yourself and speak words of blessings for those you disagree with the most. “Love Your Enemies and Bless Those Who Persecute You” Matthew 5:44 ESV. “It seems like every week there is a new major controversy taking place within the Church. Most of the time, the situation revolves around one group of Christians disagreeing with another and then taking to the internet to write slanderous posts about the other.” This teaching is true enough, and nothing is harder. But to say “every week there is a new major controversy” is really about you as much as it is about the unnamed controversies. I think you should define “controversy”. Do you mean disagreement over the meaning or application of particular verses, sincere seeking of better understanding, or a real mess, like sexual abuse?
He claims to present four “clear teachings” as headlines, and if they are clear to him, they’re a lot less clear to me. The only one I agree with, the way he states them, is #4. Even there, he follows up with a questionable example and over generalization. I will leave it up to the reader how clear his interpretation of Jesus’ teachings are, and whether his intent is to teach, or subvert.